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- Just two servings a week of meat is associated with up to 7% higher risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular illness, according to a new study.
- This was true of not only red meat but also poultry, researchers found. But red meat and all kinds of processed meat were also linked to higher risk of all causes of death.
- The study’s authors recommend swapping out meat for fish, other seafood, and plant-based sources of protein instead to improve heart health.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
There’s now even more research that cutting back on meat could be good for your health. Even two servings a week of beef, pork, lamb or poultry has been associated with a higher risk of heart problems, according to a new study published Monday.
Researchers from Northwestern University in Chicago looked at 29,682 Americans from six different studies, over an average of about 19 years. They found a small but significant association between eating two servings of meat, including poultry, per week and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Participants who reported regularly eating red meat or poultry, but not fish, had a 3% to 7% higher risk of cardiovascular disease that those who didn’t.
Processed meat and red meat in particular were consistently associated with a higher risk — two servings a week was associated with a 3% higher risk of death from all causes, according to the study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Keto diet foods keto diet recipes keto pills keto diet menu for beginners keto diet for beginners keto diet explained Chicken is not as bad for you as steak, but it’s a good idea to cut down on animal proteins, scientists say
The increased risk from eating meat is a small one, according to Victor Zhong, lead study author and assistant professor of nutritional sciences at Cornell, who completed the research while studying at Northwestern.
The research didn’t find a strong enough link between eating poultry and disease risk to recommend cutting back on chicken or turkey.
But they do suggest stepping back from the steak — researchers found that there was no safe amount for consuming processed meat or red meat.
“Only zero consumption was associated with no increased risk of heart disease and premature death. Any consumption was associated with an increased risk,” Zhong told Insider.
However, eating more animal proteins was associated with greater risk, so even cutting out a few servings of meat a week could be beneficial, he added.
“Modifying intake of these animal protein foods may be an important dietary strategy to help reduce risk of cardiovascular disease and premature death at population level,” Zhong said.
Keto diet foods keto diet recipes keto pills keto diet menu for beginners keto diet for beginners keto diet explained Swap your chicken dinner for fish, quinoa, and broccoli
Previous research on the risks of red meat and processed meat has been controversial: A study last year recommended that people should continue eating meat, as the risks were found to be minimal and supported by weak evidence. However, that study was later mired in a conflict of interest debate, as the lead author had previously received funding from the meat industry.
As with many nutritional studies, Zhong’s research has potential limitations in that it relies on self-reported data to track participants’ diets, and it only shows a correlation, not causation, between diet and health.
But this most recent research coincides with previous studies that have found plant-based diets, or those that are mostly plant-based but include seafood, could have promising health benefits.
“Our study findings support current dietary guidelines that recommend limiting processed meat and unprocessed red meat intake,” Zhong said in a press release. “People can get needed nutrients from various other foods.”